Catster is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

8 Best Cat Foods for Healthy Skin & Coats in 2024: Reviews & Top Picks

Written by: Kristin Hitchcock

Last Updated on July 2, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Devon Rex tabby cat eating wet tuna food

8 Best Cat Foods for Healthy Skin & Coats in 2024: Reviews & Top Picks

Devon Rex tabby cat eating wet tuna food We all want our felines to be happy and healthy. However, sometimes they have problems with their skin and coat. It may be due to skin sensitivities or food allergies. Often, it is difficult to treat, and flare-ups are common.

Luckily, many of these problems can be handled with a diet change. In this article, we’ll help you choose the perfect cat food to support your cat’s skin and coat. Below, you’ll find reviews and a complete buyer’s guide.

divider 1 paws

A Quick Glance at Our Favorites in 2024

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Smalls Fresh Smooth Fish Recipe (Cat Food Subscription) Smalls Fresh Smooth Fish Recipe (Cat Food Subscription)
  • Several fish as the primary ingredients
  • High in protein and omega fatty acids
  • Human-grade, high-quality ingredients
  • Budget Buy
    Second place
    Redbarn Naturals Pate Skin & Coat Canned Cat Food Redbarn Naturals Pate Skin & Coat Canned Cat Food
  • Lamb as the first ingredient
  • No corn, wheat, or soy
  • DHA and omega fatty acids included
  • Third place
    AvoDerm Natural Wild Cat Food AvoDerm Natural Wild Cat Food
  • Mostly just salmon and salmon broth
  • Includes natural DHA and omega fatty acids
  • Free from grains
  • American Journey Salmon Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food American Journey Salmon Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food
  • Very high in protein
  • Antioxidants included
  • Omega fatty acids and DHA
  • Go! Solutions skin + Coat Care Dry Cat Food Go! Solutions skin + Coat Care Dry Cat Food
  • Includes plenty of animal ingredients
  • Calorie-dense
  • Includes DHA and omega fatty acids
  • The 8 Best Cat Foods for a Healthy Skin & Coat

    1. Smalls Fresh Smooth Fish Recipe (Cat Food Subscription) — Best Overall

    Smalls Fresh Smooth Fish Recipe

    To improve your cat’s skin and coat, we recommend the Smalls Fresh Smooth Fish recipe. This fresh cat food contains no fillers or artificial flavors. It’s easier for most cats to digest, which may improve their skin and coat health. It’s made from only high-quality, human-grade ingredients, making it one of the best foods on the market.

    We love that it contains several types of fish, which are high in protein and omega fatty acids. The fatty acids may help improve your cat’s skin and coat health and are naturally found in all types of fish. It also contains a range of veggies and fruits, which supports your cat’s overall health.

    The formula is grain-free, which may be ideal for sensitive felines. We highly recommend this formula because of its natural ingredients and high protein content. While it is more expensive than other formulas, the extra price is often worth it, thanks to the high-quality ingredients.

    Pros
    • Several fish as the primary ingredients
    • High in protein and omega fatty acids
    • Human-grade, high-quality ingredients
    • Grain-free
    • Contains a range of fruits and veggies
    Cons
    • Expensive

    2. Redbarn Naturals Pate Skin & Coat Canned Cat Food– Budget Buy

    Redbarn Naturals Pate Skin & Coat Canned Cat Food

    Compared to some of the other brands, Redbarn Naturals Pate Skin & Coat Canned Cat Food is the best cat food for healthy skin for the money. Lamb, lamb broth, and lamb liver are included as the first three ingredients. Most of the other ingredients are either plants like parsley or added nutrients. Redbarn is relatively high in protein but isn’t necessarily the highest.

    It has no grains, gluten, corn, wheat, or soy, and the recipe is grain-free. Salmon oil is included for added DHA and omega fatty acids. These ingredients can encourage your cat’s skin and coat health. Because it is canned food, there is added moisture, which is often essential for adequate hydration and healthy skin.

    Redbarn does not include any artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

    Pros
    • Includes mostly lamb
    • Suitable for cats with allergies
    • No corn, wheat, or soy
    • DHA and omega fatty acids included
    Cons
    • Might not work for picky cats
    • Not inexpensive

    3. AvoDerm Natural Wild Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

    AvoDerm Natural Wild by Nature Grain-Free Canned Cat Food

    While it is a bit more expensive than other brands, AvoDerm Natural Wild Grain-Free Canned Cat Food is also higher quality. It includes salmon, as well as a variety of added vitamins and minerals. The ingredient list includes salmon and salmon broth, and that’s it. AvoDerm is high in protein for this reason, which is perfect for sensitive cats.

    Salmon is also great for cats with sensitive skin and coat, including natural omega fatty acids and DHA. These ingredients can nurture your feline’s skin and coat. AvoDerm includes various added nutrients, like avocadoes, taurine, antioxidants, and essential amino acids.

    It is complete cat food, so you can feed it full-time to your cat. This food is 100% grain-free, and the salmon broth increases hydration, which may be necessary for cats with skin problems.

    Pros
    • Mostly just salmon and salmon broth
    • Includes natural DHA and omega fatty acids
    • Free from grains
    • Suitable for sensitive stomachs
    Cons
    • Expensive

    4. American Journey Salmon Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

    American Journey Salmon Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food

    The American Journey Salmon Recipe Grain-Free Dry Cat Food is grain-free and made without corn, wheat, or soy. Deboned salmon is the first ingredient, with salmon meal as the second. Other animal products are included, such as menhaden fish meal and egg products. Pea protein and peas are also included, though they are further down on the ingredient list.

    While American Journey is high in protein, much of it is likely from the pea protein. It may not include the broad swath of amino acids that animal meats provide. It is crafted in the USA, but the ingredients are sourced from around the world.

    Antioxidants are included as well, which can support a healthy immune system. However, the real MVP of this cat food is all the omega fatty acids and DHA that come from the fish in the formula.

    Pros
    • Plenty of fish included
    • Very high in protein
    • Antioxidants included
    • Omega fatty acids and DHA
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Pea protein included

    5. Go! Solutions skin + Coat Care Dry Cat Food

    Go! Solutions skin + Coat Care Dry Cat Food

    Go! Solutions skin + Coat Care Dry Cat Food is a more expensive cat food. It is explicitly designed to support healthy skin and fur, however. It does not include any corn, wheat, or soy and is pea-free. The first ingredient is chicken meal, with deboned chicken as the second ingredient. Both are high-quality options.

    However, they are unsuitable for felines allergic to chicken. The remainder of the ingredient list is a mixture of grains with other high-quality ingredients, like salmon meal and cranberries.

    Go! Solutions is high in protein and has more protein than most of the other brands on this list. Because no peas or other high-protein veggies are included, most of the protein comes from meat products. It is quite calorie-dense, so you may have to feed less than your cat’s current food.

    The salmon meal includes plenty of DHA and omega-3 fatty acids for a healthy coat. Antioxidants and prebiotics are included as well.

    Pros
    • Includes plenty of animal ingredients
    • Calorie-dense
    • Includes DHA and omega fatty acids
    Cons
    • May not be preferred by picky cats
    • A bit expensive

    6. Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Sensitive Skin Dry Cat Food

    Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Sensitive Skin Dry Cat Food

    For an expensive formula, consider Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Sensitive Skin Dry Cat Food. It costs less than most brands but includes several ingredients for cats with skin and coat problems. The first ingredient is lamb, which is a novel protein. Most felines are not sensitive to it, and it may be suitable for cats with allergies. However, further down on the list, chicken meal is included. Therefore, you cannot feed it to your feline if they are allergic to chicken.

    The other ingredients, such as rice and oatmeal, are a bit lower quality. It is not grain-free, but it is pea-free. Most of the protein comes from animal sources, and it contains essential amino acids. Pro Plan is fortified with a variety of different probiotics and prebiotics. These ingredients support your cat’s digestion. It also contains omega-6 fatty acids and vitamin A, which may improve your cat’s skin and coat.

    Pros
    • Lamb as the first ingredient
    • Pea-free
    • Probiotics and prebiotics included
    • Omega-6 fatty acids included
    Cons
    • Some low-quality ingredients included

    7. Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Skin Dry Cat Food

    Hill's Science Diet Adult Sensitive Skin Dry Cat Food

    While Hill’s Science Diet is often considered high-quality, we found the Hill’s Science Diet Adult Sensitive Skin Dry Cat Food a bit underwhelming. It includes chicken as the first ingredient, but the rest are grains, such as brewer’s rice, corn gluten meal, and whole-grain corn. While some of these are whole grain and high-quality, others are not. It is also quite expensive, so we expected better ingredients for the price.

    Hills Science Diet is decently high in protein and fat, which is essential for healthy skin and fur. It also includes ingredients like eggs, which are highly nutritional. Omega-6 fatty acids are included, and antioxidants are also included for immune health. No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives are included. This formula is made in the USA, though all the ingredients may not be sourced in the USA.

    Pros
    • High in protein
    • Chicken as the first ingredient
    • Omega fatty acids included
    Cons
    • Includes chicken (may not be suitable for cats with allergies)
    • Includes lots of grains
    • Expensive

    8. Hill’s Prescription Diet Skin/Food Sensitivities Cat Food

    Hill's Prescription Diet Skin/Food Sensitivities Cat Food

    The Hill’s Prescription Diet Skin/Food Sensitivities Cat Food is similar to the previous option we reviewed. However, it is designed as a diet food and requires a veterinary prescription. There is a good reason for this, and you should always work with your vet when your cat has these problems. However, it is an extra step for cat owners to go through.

    The ingredients are relatively underwhelming, including the brewer’s rice as the first ingredient. The second ingredient is hydrolyzed chicken liver. This chicken liver is treated to prevent it from flaring up allergies. However, there are easier ways to treat pet allergies, such as switching to a food that doesn’t include chicken if your cat is allergic to chicken (which is often much cheaper than choosing a hydrolyzed version).

    Pros
    • Includes hydrolyzed protein
    • Antioxidants
    Cons
    • Expensive
    • Overkill for most cats
    • Requires a prescription

    divider 3 paws

    Buyer’s Guide: How to Pick the Best Cat Food for Healthy Skin & Coat

    Buying the perfect cat food for your feline can seem complicated. After all, there are many things to keep track of and terminology that may make little sense. To help you make the best decision for your feline, we wrote this complete guide that contains everything you need to know about choosing the best sensitive skin and coat cat food for your feline.

    Ingredient List

    When examining cat food, the first thing you should do is look at the ingredient list. The first few ingredients should be high-quality meats. Because some high-quality foods only use one type of protein, it isn’t necessarily bad if there is only one meat product in the food, as long as it is listed first.

    This is especially true if your cat has allergies since many companies reduce the number of ingredients in their food for felines with sensitivities. This is called a limited ingredient diet, and it helps to reduce the chances number of ingredients that your cat could have an allergy or sensitivity against.

    Meat meal is meat that has been cooked down substantially, turning it into concentrated material with very little moisture. It is more protein-dense than whole meat. However, it is usually made of rendered meat products, and the origin is unclear. If it appears high on the ingredients list, the food includes plenty of protein. Whole meat is always preferable since it is less processed, preserves the quality, is less dehydrated, and allows you to know exactly what your cat is eating in its diet.

    Most cat food formulas include a range of veggies and fruits. This isn’t necessary in all cases, as many foods include all the nutrients cats need in a supplemented form. However, veggies and fruits can offer nutritional value if they are high-quality and not used as fillers.

    High levels of veggies like peas and potatoes are not recommended. These have some nutritional value, but many companies include far more than your cat can benefit from. These inexpensive veggies are often used as fillers in grain-free food instead of the usual grains. Also, they end up adding unnecessary carbohydrates to your cat’s diet.

    feline cat eating on a metal bowl
    Image Credit by: Krakenimages.com, Shutterstock

    Protein and Fat Content

    You should also look at the protein content. Cats are obligate carnivores, so they need to eat meals with protein and fat. This describes the makeup of most meat. Sadly, many cat foods are relatively high in carbohydrates, including added grains and veggies. Some carbohydrates are okay, but you want as little as possible. Choose the highest protein food you can afford.

    You should also be aware of the type of protein included. If a food includes many different types of meat, most protein likely comes from animal products. Some companies will even list the percentage of their food’s animal protein in the description.

    Be aware of ingredients like pea protein and potato protein. These add quite a bit of protein to the food. However, it is a vegetable-based protein, which may not contain all the amino acids your cat needs. If a food has a high protein content but includes pea or potato protein, remember that not all of that high protein amount comes from meat.

    Ingredients for Sensitive Skin

    Because you’re looking for cat food to support your feline’s sensitive skin, choosing a food that includes plenty of added ingredients for this purpose is essential. For instance, your feline’s food should consist of a high amount of omega fatty acids. They are the most critical ingredients to support your cat’s fur and coat, so they are relatively significant.

    Usually, they are added through some fish products. Whole fish may be included, but fish oil is equally viable. You may also want to look for added moisture. Usually, this involves choosing wet food over dry food.

    Increasing the moisture in their diet can be helpful for coat and skin problems. However, it mostly depends on whether your feline is getting an appropriate amount of moisture in their regular diet. Some cats drink plenty of water, while others don’t.

    Antioxidants may be necessary as well. They should be in every cat food, but they are often lacking. Also, probiotics and prebiotics can help if the source of your cat’s sensitive skin and coat is digestion-based. Of course, if your feline is allergic to something, you should also avoid it.

    Hepper 360 Cat Feeder, Stainless Steel, Anti-Chew...
    • NO MESS - The 360° tray on this cat food and water bowl set has a raised design to catch and...
    • WHISKER FRIENDLY - Shallow and wide metal containers with flat bottoms ensure your kitty can enjoy...
    • CHEW-SAFE MATERIALS - Kittens and cats love chewing on silicone and soft rubber - but it's a choking...

    Feeding your cat a high-quality diet is important for keeping them healthy and happy. But it goes beyond the food you choose; the dishes they use also matter. The Hepper NomNom Cat Bowl is our favorite for its unique, five-star design that protects from whisker fatigue and promotes good posture which also aids in better digestion. As an added bonus, it’s beautifully crafted and offers a modern take on the traditional cat bowl that fits seamlessly with all home stylings. Learn more about the NomNom by clicking here.

    At Catster, we’ve admired Hepper for many years and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!

     

     

    divider 2 cats

    Final Verdict

    Of all the cat foods we reviewed for sensitive skin, Smalls Fresh Smooth Fish Recipe is the best. It isn’t even designed specifically for sensitive skin. However, it includes everything that your sensitive feline may need. Including fish ensures that the food includes plenty of omega fatty acids, as fish is a natural source.

    As a budget option, you may choose Redbarn Naturals Pate Skin & Coat Canned Cat Food with lamb as the first ingredient and salmon oil included for added DHA and omega fatty acids.


    Featured Image Credit: Veera, Shutterstock

    Get Catster in your inbox!

    Stay informed! Get tips and exclusive deals.
    Catster Editors Choice Badge
    Shopping Cart

    Pangolia

    © Pangolia Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved.